Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Recession is Over..."Technically"

   I recently got into a conversation with an old friend about the recession. He was very surprised to hear me talk about the recession in the present tense since, technically, it is over. I thought that to be an interesting point of view, but then considered the source of the view and understood completely. You would have to know my friend to understand why I say that, but I think I can express our conversation in a broader view.
   Not so long ago, I think it was back in January, I wrote a post on this blog called “Empty Spaces” wherein I explored the prevailing thought, at the time, that everything was fine economically...despite the increasing rise of empty spaces where thriving small businesses used to be. Now, in a conversation about the economy where I was being told that the recession is technically over, I couldn’t help but to mention that the technicality of it doesn’t do anything to fill the empty spaces and that the appearance of those spaces is still on the rise. “Space For Lease” is the new sign where a good dry cleaners used to be in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, it’s a new sign among many, many old ones. 
   The recession being “technically” over doesn’t reverse the effects for those that were caught neck deep in it. I can understand the point of view, because that is just what it is...a different perspective based on personal position. If your personal position is one of relative comfort, and the recession for you was just a loose term used on the evening news, then yes,“technically” it’s over. However, if you are one check away from losing everything and that check is steadily losing buying power, then the recession being technically over doesn’t mean anything at all to you...because for you it’s still a very real event.
   “There are many definitions of what a recession is. The only one that counts is the one you are dealing with on a daily basis.” - Survivor’s Guide to a Recession: 50 States, page 10.
   So, continuing my conversation, it was mentioned that I wrote a book to help people that are struggling during these harsh times...and again was reminded that what is considered harsh for one may be considered a bit stagnant for another. A lesson in perspective was again upon me, as it was mentioned that if I had written a book on how to generate wealth, that would have been something worth mentioning. I is worth mentioning. I also think that a book that caters to the wealthiest one percent of the country is not nearly as helpful to a person in the disappearing middle class as a book that addresses the needs and problems of that class.
   If you lost your job tomorrow and couldn’t find another for at least six months, could you maintain your level of comfort and lifestyle without any adjustments at all?  Would you wake up every morning worry free because you have plenty of money on hand to pay all your bills...for six months? I think most reading this would have to make some adjustment, no matter how small, something would change. I could be way off base here and the recession is not only technically over but the effects of it are long gone too...but then I would have to not believe my lying eyes as I gaze daily upon people and businesses, small and large, struggling to stay economically viable.
   My conversation was engaging and informative, hopefully both ways, and I came out of it with more than I had when I got into it. Although the answer to the question of whether we are in a recession or not will be answered individually by the daily way in which we live, I think the more pressing question is are you prepared for the next one? Are you ready to endure another crash in the economy? 
   We all have to answer this question eventually...but if you’re looking for some sound advice here it is: Don’t wait until after the economy crashes to answer the question...and start making adjustments now if the answer is “no.”

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